How is your social conscience? In your thinking is “humanitarian aid” nothing more than the theological liberal’s version of the gospel? Should we as fundamentalists be deeply involved in societal needs outside our own congregations, or are humanitarian concerns out of the realm of our biblical duty? Gerald L. Priest, in an article entitled “Is Fundamentalism a Cultural Phenomenom?” published on the FBFI website, claims that “the mission of the church, according to divine directive (Matt. 28:19, 20), is not to reform society, but to confront its members with the claims of Christ and compassionately offer a gracious gospel that has the power not merely to reform but to regenerate. . . Fundamentalists have realized that a gospel of human rehabilitation is not the solution to social ills.”
With this statement we wholeheartedly agree, but the implied application that humanitarian concerns are a distant priority for fundamentalist Christians passionate about the salvation of souls is a far cry from the gospel that Jesus lived every day He walked on this earth. While His words prepared His listeners for the kingdom of heaven, His hands ministered to their very earthly needs. The stark situation of 800 million people in our world who every day lack the most basic of necessities for survival is easy to forget in our comfy church seats and snug lounge room Bible studies. What are you doing to become more connected with the genuine needs of those less fortunate than you in order to lubricate the cause of the true gospel of Jesus Christ? Sacrificial love for others is the Siamese twin of true evangelism. Head, heart, and hands are best teamed together in the work of the gospel.
Living in a third-world country has opened my eyes to the vast community of humanitarian aid workers. Previously I might have thoughtlessly labeled all such workers as missionaries of the “gospel of human rehabilitation.” I am ashamed to admit that I was surprised that some have strategically allowed their heart for humanitarian concerns to open the door for introducing others to Christ. By going with established organisations, they take advantage of set procedures and proven pathways in international work while placing themselves in the middle of great spiritual need. Practical human exigencies are a platform for true Christlike compassion and gospel witness.
So what are some steps you can take to become more compassionately involved? Here are some suggestions:
1. Purposely get involved with people less fortunate than yourself. Pray about how you can be a blessing to them. Do you have women’s shelters, rescue missions, youth centres in your area? Even if the place is not run by Christians, a disciple of Jesus could find opportunity for Spirit-filled ministry there.
2. Find out what your church’s missionaries are doing to help others practically and get involved by giving and going.
3. Visit a needy neighbour, someone who can’t return the favour. Invite them for a cup of tea and a sympathetic listening ear and find out what other needs they may have.
4. You don’t have to go overseas to find communities in need. Aboriginal communities are often in need of professionals willing to give a year or two in a remote place. You could let your light shine for Jesus while getting a government salary.
5. Familiarise yourself with world events. Watch the international news and read international headlines and magazine articles.
6. AusAid (www.ausaid.gov.au) funds many overseas humanitarian organisations. Perhaps you could find a job description that would suit you through their website.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; ? And what does the LORD require of you ?But to do justly, ? To love mercy, ? And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8